City of Harare has expressed concern about stray dogs in the capital, with Town Clerk Tendai Mahachi confirming that a noticeable increase has been recorded.
Packs of dogs can be seen in almost all residential suburbs in Harare scavenging for food.
The city has recorded a few rabies cases recently. The concern is that it could spread to humans in the absence of control measures.
“Dog owners are reminded that it is their responsibility in terms of the Dog licensing and Control By Laws (SI 55 OF 1986, Section 13) to ensure that their pets remain securely confined within their properties at all times,” Mahachi emphasised.
He added that City of Harare’s health department would soon be embarking on a dog trapping exercise to remove stray dogs from the city’s streets. All trapped dogs will be delivered to the Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) where owners will have seven days to reclaim their pets at a cost.
Stray dogs attacked Glen Norah resident Silo Mukombe as he tried to open his gate during the night. “I was coming from work and a group of three dogs was camping on my gate. As I was trying to gain entrance they attacked me. I was left with serious injuries on my right leg,” he narrated.
While in Prospect, a resident said that “some of the dogs are so vicious and stubborn. I tried to chase one of the dogs which was emptying my litter bin and it attacked me. I had to run for cover in the house.”
Gertrude Dongo from Westlea said that stray dogs are messing her lawn every day. “Some of us are still building and our houses are not yet Durawalled, so these stray dogs, after emptying our bins, defecate on my lawn and I have to collect the waste every day,” said Dongo.
“Our children are at risk of contracting rabies. There are a lot of stray dogs roaming freely in the townships. My neighbour’s son was bitten by a dog which eye witnesses say was drooling saliva,” said Never Simango, a Sizinda resident.
Locals have urged the Department of Veterinary Services to act quickly.
“There are a lot of dogs that have not received their vaccinations and are free to roam to streets,” said a local man. He urged the department to resume its rabies vaccination campaigns in the high-density suburbs.
A city veterinary doctor Hilton Murombedzi encouraged people who want vaccinations for their dogs to visit the nearest SPCA. Single rabies shots cost $5, while a full set of vaccinations, which will keep a dog healthy and disease free for a year, is $15. If dogs are neutered or spayed they will get a further discount.
“Spaying dogs is the most responsible action an owner can take,” said Ed Lanca of the SPCA. “Unspayed bitches soon become pregnant and exacerbate the problem by having large litters of puppies.”
SPCA veterinarians, inspectors and staff are available to assist the public in making informed choices to ensure animals are kept happy, healthy and disease free.